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sitting in the fire fast for reflection, healing and rebirth

reflection 19

Gerardo Flores: This strengthens our hope and removes our fear

I arrived in Philadelphia in 2006, but I came to New York from Mexico in 1987. I worked at a restaurant in New York and I saw the Twin Towers fall. The restaurant closed then, and it never reopened. We came to Philadelphia to visit and decided to stay.

Here we have business: we sell food from a cart at 401 W. Alleghany, near the Maria de los Santos health center. We sell pastelitos, tacos, tamales, chips, horchata, hibiscus water, food from the south of Puebla. When we started selling food there it was a vacant lot, and we’d take out the grill and the comal to cook. Now there is a mall that wants to get rid of the small merchants like us. But [the planning committee] let us stay, and that was a struggle that New Sanctuary Movement helped us with.

NSM file photo
I wear the NSM t-shirt with pride, it's like a flag

I have a son who was deported. Looking for my son they went to the house, and they put the dog to sleep, but they did not find him [the first time]. The second time, they did. We have a friend who worked in the office of the state representative Angel Cruz who tried to help us, and the priest [at Visitation Church] also spoke with [the police - immigration].

NSM was just beginning back then. [They] came to us, to see if they could help us. They made a video about our experience, and many people learned about the situation through that.

In those days I was undocumented, and at first I was afraid to speak in public. But we saw that NSM was fighting for us, and we identified with them. We saw that we could defend ourselves better in a group and we started working as volunteers with NSM. At that time there was no capital, and NSM did not have much support, but we did a lot of work and we achieved a lot.

Fotos de archivo NSM

Now I am part of the board of directors with other people from NSM member congregations and allies. We meet to see how NSM's day-to-day work is going, and to discuss strategies. I feel proud of our successes. [For example] it was a very hard struggle to separate the police from the migra ... but it fills your heart with satisfaction knowing that what you are doing is for the good of the community. It is important to have an organization that supports you, and to know that you are not alone.

I wear the NSM t-shirt with pride, it's like a flag.

If you do not fight for what is right, God will ask you what you did for your neighbor

Friday I will fast all day, with prayer and dedication. We are members of Visitation parish, Eucharistic ministers and Guadalupanos. We carry the Virgin every year from here to the cathedral [on her feast day]. This strengthens our hope, faith, minds, and removes our fear.

If you do not fight for what is right, God will ask you what you did for your neighbor. There are many injustices. The government is playing politics with the children at the border. Unfortunately, they have done so with laws that already existed from other administrations but hadn't been enforced. Now they are enforcing them, and they have awakened the people.

The raids, helping families, making changes in immigration policy, all these are important struggles we have in front us.

We are proud to work with NSM, and we will continue working with the hope that things will change. We will continue to monitor the rights of immigrants, and we always maintain comprehensive change in our sights. We want justice.

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NSM Philadelphia
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